Redemption Through His Blood - Ephesians 1:6-10 - Part 2
When A.J. Gordon was pastor of a church in Boston, he met a young boy in front of the sanctuary carrying a rusty cage in which several birds fluttered nervously. Gordon inquired, "Son, where did you get those birds?" The boy replied, "I trapped them out in the field." "What are you going to do with them?" "I'm going to play with them, and then I guess I'll just feed them to an old cat we have at home." When Gordon offered to buy them, the lad exclaimed, "Mister, you don't want them, they're just little old wild birds and can't sing very well." Gordon replied, "I'll give you $2 for the cage and the birds." "Okay, it's a deal, but you're making a bad bargain." The exchange was made and the boy went away whistling, happy with his shiny coins. Gordon walked around to the back of the church property, opened the door of the small wire coop, and let the struggling creatures soar into the blue. The next Sunday he took the empty cage into the pulpit and used it to illustrate his sermon about Christ's coming to seek and to save the lost -- paying for them with His own precious blood. "That boy told me the birds were not songsters," said Gordon, "but when I released them and they winged their way heavenward, it seemed to me they were singing, 'Redeemed, redeemed, redeemed!"You and I have been held captive to sin, but Christ has purchased our pardon and set us at liberty. When a person has this life-changing experience, he will want to sing, "Redeemed, redeemed, redeemed!"
- The Redemptive Results
the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, (7b–9a)
1. Redemption involves every conceivable good thing, “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (v. 3).
2. But here Paul focuses on two especially important aspects. One is negative, the forgiveness of our trespasses, and the other is positive, wisdom and insight.
3. Forgiveness. The primary result of redemption for the believer is forgiveness, one of the central salvation truths of both the Old and New Testaments.
a. It is also the dearest truth to those who have experienced its blessing.
b. At the Last Supper, Jesus explained to the disciples that the cup He then shared with them was His “blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins” (Matt. 26:28).
c. Redemption brings forgiveness.
4. Behaviorists and those from some other schools of psychology maintain that we cannot be blamed for our sin, that it is the fault of our genes, our environment, our parents, or something else external.
a. But a person’s sin is his own fault, and the guilt for it is his own. The honest person who has any understanding of his own heart knows that.
b. The gospel does not teach, as some falsely maintain, that men have no sin or guilt, but rather that Christ will take away both the sin and the guilt of those who trust Him.
c. As Paul told the Jews in Pisidian Antioch, “Through Him [Christ] forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things” (Acts 13:38–39).
5. Israel’s greatest holy day was Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
a. On that day the high priest selected two unblemished sacrificial goats.
b. One goat was killed, and his blood was sprinkled on the altar as a sacrifice.
c. The high priest placed his hands on the head of the other goat, symbolically laying the sins of the people on the animal.
d. The goat was then taken out deep into the wilderness, so far that it could never find its way back.
e. In symbol the sins of the people went with the goat, never to return to them again (Lev. 16:7–10).
6. But that enactment, beautiful and meaningful as it was, did not actually remove the people’s sins, as they well knew.
a. It was but a picture of what only God Himself in Christ could do.
b. As previously mentioned , aphiēmi (from which forgiveness comes) basically means to send away.
c. Used as a legal term it meant to repay or cancel a debt or to grant a pardon.
d. Through the shedding of His own blood, Jesus Christ actually took the sins of the world upon His own head, as it were, and carried them an infinite distance away from where they could never return.
e. That is the extent of the forgiveness of our trespasses.
7. It is tragic that many Christians are depressed about their shortcomings and wrongdoing.
a. They think and act as if God still holds their sins against them—forgetting that, because God has taken their sins upon Himself, they are separated from those sins “as far as the east is from the west” (Ps. 103:12).
b. They forget God’s promise through Isaiah that one day He would wipe out the transgressions of believers “like a thick cloud” and their “sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me,” He said, “for I have redeemed you” (Isa. 44:22).
c. Even before the Messiah came and paid the price for redemption, God spoke of it as already having taken place.
d. Depressed Christians forget that God looked down the corridors of time even before He fashioned the earth and placed the sins of His elect on the head of His Son, who took them an eternal distance away. He dismissed our sins before we were born, and they can never return.
8. Hundreds of years before Calvary, Micah proclaimed, “Who is a God like Thee, who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in unchanging love. He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot. Yes, Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea” (Mic. 7:18–19).
a. To ancient Israel the distance from east to west and “the depths of the sea” represented infinity. God’s forgiveness is infinite; it takes away our trespasses to the farthest reaches of eternal infinity.
b. In Shakespeare’s King Richard III (5.3.194) the king laments, My conscience hath a thousand several tongues, And every tongue brings in a several tale, And every tale condemns me for a villain.
c. That is not true of Christians. When Jesus comes into our lives as Savior and Lord, He says to us what He said to the woman caught in the act of adultery, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (John 8:11).
d. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death” (Rom. 8:1–2).
9. Forgiveness in Jesus Christ is undeserved, but it is free and it is complete.
a. Those who have Him have freedom from sin, now and throughout eternity.
b. In Christ our sins—past, present, and future—“are forgiven … for His name’s sake” (1 John 2:12; cf. Eph. 4:32; Col. 2:13).
c. They were forgiven countless ages before we committed them and will remain forgiven forever.
d. Because we continue to sin, we need the continued forgiveness of cleansing; but we do not need the continued forgiveness of redemption. Jesus told Peter, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean” (John 13:10).
e. Even though we continue to sin, Jesus “is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
f. He forgives all our sins in the sweeping grace of salvation.
g. That does not mean we will no longer sin, nor that when we do our sins have no harmful effect. They have a profound effect on our growth, joy, peace, usefulness, and ability to have intimate and rich communion with the Father.
h. Thus the believer is called on to ask for forgiveness daily so that he may enjoy not just the general forgiveness of redemption, but the specific forgiveness of daily cleansing, which brings fellowship and usefulness to their maximum.
i. That is the issue in our Lord’s teaching on prayer recorded in Matthew 6:12, 14–15.
10. There are no second class Christians, no deprived citizens of God’s kingdom or children in His family.
a. Every sin of every believer is forgiven forever.
b. God knows how we were, how we now live, and how we will live the rest of our lives.
c. He sees everything about us in stark–naked reality. Yet He says, “I am satisfied with you because I am satisfied with My Son, to whom you belong. When I look at you, I see Him, and I am pleased.”
d. Because God accepts every believer as He accepts His own Son, every believer ought to accept himself in the same way.
e. We do not accept ourselves for what we are in ourselves any more than God accepts us for that reason. We accept ourselves as forgiven and as righteous because that is what God Himself declares us to be.
f. To think otherwise is not a sign of humility but of arrogance, because to think otherwise is to put our own judgment above God’s Word and to belittle the redemption price paid for us by His own beloved Son.
g. A Christian who denigrates himself and doubts full forgiveness denies the work of God and denigrates a child of God. If we matter to God, we certainly ought to matter to ourselves.
11. A person may have many friends in high places. He may know presidents, kings, governors, senators, and world leaders of every sort. But such friendships pale beside that of the most obscure Christian, who not only is a friend but a child of the Creator of the universe.
a. Songwriter Philip Bliss wrote, I am so glad that our Father in heav’n Tells of His love in the Book He has giv’n. Wonderful things in the Bible I see; This is the dearest, that Jesus loves me. Oh, if there’s only one song I can sing, When in His beauty I see the Great King, This shall my song in eternity be: “Oh, what a wonder that Jesus loves me!”
b. The vastness and comprehensiveness of our forgiveness is seen in Paul’s statement that it is according to the riches of His grace.
c. God’s grace—like His love, holiness, power, and all His other attributes—is boundless.
d. It is far beyond our ability to comprehend or describe, yet we know it is according to the riches of that infinite grace that He provides forgiveness.
e. If you were to go to a multimillionaire and ask him to contribute to a worthy ministry, and he gave you a check for twenty–five dollars, he would only be giving out of his riches. Many poor people give that much. But if, instead, he gave you a check for fifty thousand dollars, he would be giving according to his riches.
f. That is a small picture of God’s generosity. His forgiveness not only is given according to the riches of His grace but is lavished upon us.
g. We need never worry that our sin will outstrip God’s gracious forgiveness. “Where sin increased,” Paul assures us, “grace abounded all the more” (Rom. 5:20).
h. Our heavenly Father does not simply give us subsistence forgiveness that will barely cover our sins if we are careful not to overdo.
i. We cannot sin beyond God’s grace, because as wicked and extensive as our sins might be or become, they will never approach the greatness of His grace.
j. His forgiveness is infinite, and He lavishes it without measure upon those who trust in His Son. We therefore not only can enjoy future glory with God but present fellowship with Him as well.
12. Wisdom and Insight. The second result of redemption for the believer is his being given wisdom and insight.
a. Sophia (wisdom) emphasizes understanding of ultimate things—such as life and death, God and man, righteousness and sin, heaven and hell, eternity and time. Paul is speaking of wisdom concerning the things of God,
b. Phronēsis (insight), on the other hand, emphasizes practical understanding, comprehension of the needs, problems, anti principles of everyday living. It is spiritual prudence in the handling of daily affairs.
c. God not only forgives us—taking away the sin that corrupts and distorts our lives—but also gives us all the necessary equipment to understand Him and to walk through the world day by day in a way that reflects His will and is pleasing to Him. He generously gives us the wherewithal both to understand His Word and to know how to obey it.
d. In Jesus Christ, God takes us into His confidence. “We do speak wisdom among those who are mature,”
e. Paul said; it is “a wisdom, however, not of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God predestined before the ages to our glory. … Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God” (1 Cor. 2:6–7, 12). He concluded that amazing passage by declaring, “we have the mind of Christ” (v. 16).
f. The French philosopher André Maurois said, “The universe is indifferent. Who created it? Why are we on this puny mud–heap, spinning in infinite space? I have not the slightest idea, and I am convinced that no one has the least idea.”
g. It is not surprising that those who do not even recognize that God exists, much less trust and serve Him, do not have the least idea of what life, the universe, and eternity are all about.
h. Jesus said, “I praise Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou didst hide these things from the wise and intelligent and didst reveal them to babes” (Matt. 11:25).
i. James said, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).
j. When God takes away sin, He does not leave us in a spiritual, moral, and mental vacuum where we must then work things out for ourselves. He lavishes wisdom and insight on us according to the riches of His grace just as He lavishes forgiveness on us according to those riches.
- The Redemptive Reason
according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fulness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth. (1:9b–10)
1. Why has God done so much for us? Why has He blessed us with every spiritual blessing, chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world, made us holy and blameless, predestined us to adoption as His children, redeemed us through His blood, and lavishly given us forgiveness, wisdom, and insight according to the infinite riches of His grace?
2. God redeems men in order that He might gather everything to Himself. The time of that gathering will be the millennial kingdom, which will be an administration suitable to the fulness of the times.
3. When the completion of history comes, the kingdom arrives, eternity begins again, and the new heaven and new earth are established, there will be a summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth. Jesus Christ is the goal of history, which finds its resolution in Him. The paradise lost in Adam is restored in Christ.
4. At that time, “at the name of Jesus every knee [will] bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and … every tongue [will] confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10–11).
5. Christ will gather the entire universe into unity (see Ps. 2; Heb. 1:8–13). At the present time the universe is anything but unified. It is corrupted, divided, and splintered.
6. Satan is now “the ruler of this world,” but in that day he “shall be cast out” (John 12:31). He and his demon angels will be thrown into the pit during the Millennium, released for a short while, and then cast into the lake of fire for all eternity (Rev. 20:3, 10).
7. When every trace of evil has been disposed of, God will establish an incomparable unity in Himself of all things that remain. That is the inevitable goal of the universe.
8. Macbeth pessimistically declared that history is “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” (Shakespeare, Macbeth, 5.5.19).
9. Apart from the wisdom and insight God provides His children, such a hopeless conclusion is inescapable.
10. But history belongs to God, not to the puny plans of man or the perverse power of Satan. History is written and directed by its Creator, who will see it through to the fulfillment of His own ultimate purpose—the summing up of all things in Christ.
11. He designed His great plan in the ages past; He now sovereignly works it out according to His divine will; and in the fulness of the times He will complete and perfect it in His Son, in whom it will forever operate in righteous harmony and glorious newness along with all things in the heavens and things upon the earth.
MacArthur, J. (1996, c1986). Ephesians. Includes indexes. (17). Chicago: Moody Press.